How to Hit a Moving Target

Bidding is great fun. DOING the work is more fun, but we can say with some authority that bidding is a challenging kind of fun.

As part of our mission, our goal is to educate and inform clients, potential clients, and people of all walks who don’t know anything about visual effects.

When is the right time to teach about visual effects? That is today’s challenge.

Part 1 – The Breakdown

The part that sounds relatively straightforward. Open the script and read through it, skim it really, for descriptives and then figure out if they are talking about VFX. If there is something that screams VFX (e.g. Johnny gets pushed outside the spacecraft and floats for 100 yards), then highlight it, make a note of the page and move on.

It is effectively “The Breakdown.” This is how a VFX producer knows the content of the show. We use years of experience and our mind’s eye to see the effects in the script, and then make note of it for the bid. The challenge here is that the client, who may not be familiar with all aspects of visual effects may provide you with what they view as the VFX for the show. The breakdown is very handy because it puts everyone in the same book. However, they are not necessarily on the same page.

At this point the breakdown process ends and we…

Part 2 – The Bid. Version 1

Make a Version One of the bid. This should include everything that is in the script that could possibly be a visual effect. It’s easy enough when there’s a piece of paper in front of the show producer for them to strike things through and say, “We’ll do it on set!” But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes only a select few shots are bid for the sake of expediency or the needs of the moment. How does one go about discussing all of this new stuff to the client? It is hard to know whether or not they will be receptive to ‘catching’ all these potential costs, or will they freak out that there is suddenly all of this work ahead of them, well beyond the budget that they had planned for?

Part 3 – Pick up the phone.

Picking up the phone feels like the perfect opportunity to have the talk. Get it out there. Use the years and years of experience to tell them what they need to know. It’s their money and only we can help them save it or spend it. We, visual effects professionals, know what things cost. We have experience in how to solve the problems.

So, that’s the plan. Educate. Inform. Be a partner, and help them through the  visual effects minefield.